Suzanne Sugarbaker

Semi-Automatic Weapons,
Beauty Pageant Crowns and Pet Pigs Named Noel

Suzanne's mother Perky told everyone that Suzanne would grow up to be the center of attention, and she was correct. Suzanne revels in the attention -- which is probably what led her into the beauty pageant circles. She believes that beauty is the key to success in life, and that she is -- of course -- the most beautiful of all. Suzanne has won eleven beauty titles ranging from "Miss Georgia World" to "Miss Atlanta Arboretum." She comes from a wealthy Georgia family, and, having grown up in country clubs and in the company of governors, Suzanne dates many elderly, but wealthy, men. It isn't unusual for her dates to cancel due to a broken hip or a stint in intensive care, which is ammunition for a multitude of sarcastic comments from her mouthy older sister, Julia Sugarbaker.

Suzanne may date the elderly, but she married the young and verile -- at least the first three times. The great love of Suzanne's life was Dash Goff, a Southern writer who occasionally returns to Suzanne for inspiration. According to Suzanne, Dash was the first smart man to like her -- Julia always got the smart ones. They met when Suzanne was selling kisses at the Pi Phi booth at her university, Ol' Miss. According to Dash, she had the highest prices and the longest lines. Dash also has the distinct honor of being the first, and possibly only, poor person Suzanne ever kissed. Their marriage was filled with rocky times, possibly the roughest being when Suzanne carelessly threw Dash's third novel out with the trash.

Her second husband, Jack Dent, played for the Atlanta Braves. During the first season, Jack attempts to publish his autobiography. He sends Suzanne a copy for her approval which she can't be bothered to read. Julia, however, does read the transcript and is appalled by the content. According to the book, Jack has slept with every baseball groupie in the United States. Suzanne is horrified, but when she confronts Jack, he admits to having made up the stories in an attempt to make more sales. Husband number three was J. Benton Stonecipher. We never meet J. Benton during the course of the series. The only thing known about this marriage is that the turban Suzanne wore for her third wedding was a severe fashion mistake.

After her accountant absconds with all of her life savings, Suzanne loses most of her socialite status, though never seems to realize it. She still goes through her daily living, not wanting to admit to herself that her "friends" from the jet-set don't seem to pay attention to her anymore.

Suzanne can be thoughtless and self-centered. She has been known to stretch out on top of people on airplanes, or at the very least, rest her pocketbook on top of some unsuspecting passenger. Over the years, many women have been resentful of Suzanne because of the attention she receives from their husbands and boyfriends. Suzanne tends to overcompensate for this by assuming that all women are jealous of her. Deep down, Suzanne is actually hurt by her lack of female friendships and jealous of the close relationship shared by Charlene and Mary Jo. Oddly enough, Suzanne is most vulnerable and honest with Anthony, treating him as a surrogate girlfriend. Despite Suzanne making it clear that Anthony is not of the same breeding and social standards -- constantly referencing his prison days or the inappropriateness of his being seen with them in certain situations -- Suzanne and Anthony share a bond that baffles the other members of the firm. To him she admits that other women treat her as if she has no feelings. She also shares her philosophy that life is much easier if you don't get too involved. If you wait until things are forced on you, she surmises, you can never be blamed for anything.

Suzanne's deepest fear may be that her beauty is her only asset. She admits to Julia that winning her crowns was the greatest part of her life and she is afraid that nothing else will equal that. Julia is quick to criticize Suzanne, but equally quick to defend her. When Mary Jo and Charlene accuse Suzanne of being too shallow to date a fantastic man because of his blindness, Julia explains that the situation plays on all of Suzanne's insecurities. Her reliance on her beauty, her walk and her flirtatious glances will not work on a blind man and Suzanne fears that her inner self is not good enough.

Though spoiled in everyone's eyes, Suzanne always loses her selfishness and comes into her own during a crisis. She handles everything for Julia when Reese has his first heart attack and takes over again when he dies. She once even acts as foster mother for an Asian orphan, Li Sing -- the child all but becoming a miniature Suzanne. And, having so much love to give, Suzanne actually has a hard time giving up the child. For a while she owns a pet pig named Noel, which takes up part of her time and attention. She spends many afternoons driving Noel to the Dairy Queen for a Buster Bar in her Mercedes convertible. After the pig runs away, Suzanne is constantly searching for new outlets for her nurturing side, usually falling back and doting on Anthony -- who would rather she didn't.

Suzanne is fascinated with weaponry. She purchases a large semi-automatic rifle, but trades down to a small hand gun after accidentally firing it at Julia, Mary Jo and Charlene. She also accidentally shoots Anthony when she mistakes him for a prowler. Suzanne is a proud member of the National Rifle Association and often places NRA stickers on people's front doors.

For the first five seasons of Designing Women, Suzanne lives in a beautiful mansion with her psychotic foreign maid, Consuela Valverde. After Delta Burke leaves the series, the character of Suzanne is swept off to Japan to be with her mother, Perky. Julia had this to say of Suzanne's move, "She was attracted to the Japanese economy. They have a large elderly population and Suzanne has dated most of the men in this country."

Though we never see her again on Designing Women, Suzanne Sugarbaker returns almost four years later in Women of the House. During the interim between the two series, she adopts a little girl named Desiree and marries twice -- lastly to a United States Representative from her home state of Georgia. After her husband dies, Suzanne moves her family to Washington D.C. and takes over her late husband's seat in the House of Representatives as a favor to the Governor.

The flamboyant ex-beauty queen is not exactly the political arena type, but is a riot as she handles being a Congresswoman in her original way. This series redeems Suzanne, adding new dimensions to her personality and a certain maturity and sense of responsibility she never had while at Sugarbakers. Motherhood and caring for her retarded brother changes her priorities, along with the responsibilities of a United States representative.

But -- she is still Suzanne!!


Designing Women Online, Designing Women Tribute, Women of the House Magazine
and Belled Online ©1998-Present. All Rights Reserved.

  Julia Sugarbaker
  Charlene Frazier
  Mary Jo Shively
  Suzanne Sugarbaker
  Anthony Bouvier
  Carlene Dobber
  Allison Sugarbaker
  Bonnie Jean Poteet
  Bernice Clifton

  The Gentlemen Callers
  Supporting Characters
  Women of the House